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Money Envelope Update

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First I’d like to say happy Memorial Day to all! I hope you have an opportunity to spend the day with your loved ones! Thank you to all who have served, are serving, or are spouses/family of Service Members. I don’t know how you do what you do, but I am so thankful you find a way!

Remember how I decided to do a “Money Envelope May” challenge? I had intended to do an update post mid-month with how it was going, but time got away from me (or I had more pressing things to blog about), so now that the month is nearly over I decided I’d just do a wrap-up with how it all went and my impressions.

I started the month with 5 money envelopes:

  • Groceries = $380
  • Entertainment = $20
  • Eating Out = $75
  • Personal Maintenance = $20
  • Other = $125

I was not thrilled about the idea of money envelopes. When I first wrote about it, I talked about how I thought they are bulky, annoying, and just a big hassle. Now that I’m about a month deep in using them I’ve given my personal pros and cons below:

 

CONS

  • I still find them to be bulky. I am used to either NOT carrying a purse (just throwing wallet and phone into the diaper bag), or carrying a tiny purse (I have too much baby stuff to carry for me to deal with wrangling a big purse). When I started Money Envelope May I had to bust an old (larger-sized) purse out of my closet because the envelopes simply wouldn’t fit into my smaller purse. How men (or women who do not carry purses) do a money envelope system????? I have no idea.
  • You have to be very careful with balancing your envelope (like balancing a checkbook). I have never been great about this, which is why I LOVE debit cards. I know I have roughly “X” amount in my account so I can go to the store and not worry about the exact amount because I know I can always look it up later online. Not so much with a cash-only system. I thought I was diligently “balancing my envelope” (I don’t know what else to call this – but basically I was tracking my spending and how much money is leftover on the outside of my envelope….writing straight on the envelope)….but somehow I must have messed up. The only envelope that gave me a problem was “groceries.” Last week I noticed that I must have forgotten to write down a purchase because my envelope said I should have $105, and instead there was only $88 inside. I racked my brain and could not for the life of me remember where else I’d made a purchase. I know it must have been my mistake (not me misplacing money or something), but its still annoying to feel like I just “lost” $17.
  • I worry about the money getting lost/stolen. This was particularly tough the first couple days, as the envelopes feel very awkward and bulky. I was SURE I would drop an envelope full of cash or someone would reach inside my giant purse and steal it without me even realizing. I also had random fears that someone would see my cash-laden envelopes and try to rob me in a parking lot while walking out of a store. I feel much more protection with a piece of plastic because if it gets lost or stolen I can simply call the bank, have a hold placed, and get a new card issued. There’s a sense of security to it all that I lack with cold hard cash.
  • Annoying for online purchases. I wrote a post about how I got a “free” (paid $2.99 for shipping) beauty box last week. That $3 came out of my “personal maintenance” envelope….but I had to pay for it online. The way I handled any such purchases (e.g., I also paid for a couple itunes songs), was to remove the money from my envelope and put it in my wallet. Since I wasn’t using my wallet for spending, the money was basically stored safely there and when I got around to it I would deposit it back into the bank. It’s a little bit of shuffling, but not too bad.

PROS

  • Useful for storing receipts and coupons. Clearly I still had a problem with my “grocery” envelope, but I wasn’t storing receipts at the time (though I’ve started since then). But one thing I really liked the envelopes for was storing coupons!!! I’m not a big couponer, but I do clip the occasional coupon. There is nothing more annoying than going to the store, wanting “X” product, and realizing I have left my coupon at home. Argh!!! Or how about actually getting the coupon, shoving in purse, and somehow having it lost or forgotten about by the time I’m checking out (this has literally happened multiple times). Now when I make a grocery list, I see if there are any coupons I want to use and tuck them safely inside my money envelope. It’s ideal because then the coupons are stored safely together instead of getting crumpled, torn, or accidentally tossed out. And they’re right next to my cash so I don’t forget to use them when I’m checking out (The Worst!)
  • They curbed my spending. They really did help me cut back on my spending! I was surprised because I really wasn’t expecting for there to be that much of a difference, but simply being very cognizant about my spending and where my money was going helped me to cling to it a little tighter. Times when I might have been tempted to throw that extra item into my cart, or to grab an afternoon “happy hour” soda from Sonic, I was able to resist because I knew I was trying to spend less. And it worked. Isn’t this their primary purpose?

Sooo, I guess I have a lot more “cons” than “pros.” I hadn’t intended it to be that way, but this is my honest opinion. Even in spite of the plethora of cons, the money envelope system WORKED for me! Because of that one simple fact, I think I’m going to keep the money envelopes around for another month. I still prefer plastic over cash, but I think I need to get a couple months of cash-only spending under my belt before I revert back. Clearly they helped me curb my spending and that has been my goal, so there’s nothing bad I can say about that!

 

Have you ever tried a money envelope system? Want to join me for Money Envelope June (not quite as catchy as Money Envelope May, lol)?